Aviemore Scotland, May 25-27 2001

Chris Beard and his wife Jo haven't had the money to travel to any of the US races. So when they aspired to put on a British event, they only had the "Idealized" Hot Heels race to use as a model. Thank God. The result is the only other event which deserves the title "Ideal."

As this was the first year for the event, it was granted an IGSA sanction at the "Continental" points level. Everyone expected it would be pretty good. But to help round out the first full points season, it was agreed that as the only "Continental" event, the points would upgrade to "World Cup" levels. Good thing! Anyone would have felt guilty not awarding the maximum points for this truly excellent competiton. Count on seeing "Highland Wheels Extreme" advertised as a fully sanctioned "World Cup" event next year.

Several things go into making an event Ideal, and the track is just the start. The event is set in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, which explains it media moniker "Highland Wheels Extreme." You can fly into Inverness which is less than an hour from your destination by car. If you don't wish to rent a car, you can catch a bus to a train that stops literally across from the Hotel.

(Our Fearless Leader -->)
(Secret Squirrel hiding in background)

Aviemore is a very small ski resort town. The track is the road that leads up to the ski lifts. The scenery from the airport to the hotel, and from the hotel to the start line, are worth the price of admission.

The town itself can be walked several times just in deciding where you'd like to eat. Fish and Chips (a "Chippy"), Burgers, Nachos, All you can eat Pizza/Pasta alternate with Sporting Goods, Travel Agent and the like.

For the spicier appetite, an upscale Indian restaurant is close. An excellent Italian restaurant is about a 15 minute walk from the hotel, but worth it. Kurtis Head screwed up the dinner bill division by insisting on leaving a 30% tip, he had such a good meal.

There are some beautifully architected buildings close by. The home to the left is mere yards away from the Hotel. There are also excellent conveniences such as a Bank and a Hardware Store "just in case."

The rooms at Freedom Inn were very affordable, clean, and had little refrigerators, sinks and stoves. Between the Inn and the train/town is a Tesco supermarket. You could easily stock your room with any goodies (i.e. beer) you wanted for the stay. A nice breakfast was included at a fixed time each morning (7:30 am for the racers).

Another benefit was that all of the participants, organizers, parties and meeting were at the same place. The proprietors even seemed tolerent of the dozens of luges scattered outside and sometimes in the lobby. The tartan carpet constantly reminds you are in Scotland.

Transportation to and from the track was provided by a large tour bus courtesy of the organizers. Normally shuttled in the back of moving vans, the racers were thrilled to sit in luxury seats on their way up the course.

When the first bus leaked oil up the hill, the track was closed. Racers originally felt Chris might have been overly cautious in preempting practice. But after seeing how many cars had tracked oil through the corners, everyone was thankful for Chris's wisdom. The oil was quickly cleaned and a newer and even nicer bus was brought to replace it.

The pits were in Glenmore Forest Park. Boy was it tough. Scenery and plenty of room to stash your stuff!

Some people were smart enough to bring tents or tarps. The rest of the trusting fools just picked out a pitch that looked extra green and had a great time. Food vendors set up areas to supply hot meals and sodas.

Buttboarders Pete Eliot and Thomas Haas take a moment from gear prep to say "hi."

Tom was another rider to perform double duty on his board. (We point this out because it is extra cool.)

The tents were in case of rain. Note (below) the plastic grocery bags over the trucks. Brilliant! (Less prepared riders resorted to keeping their bearings dry by turning their decks wheel side down.)

Jeremy Gilder carves away at his sole. During his "Clown Shoe" period, Jerry was considered to be the Brit Favorite. Unfortunately, his reduced braking power comes into play later.

Dr. Pete Love, previous Buttboard detractor, is now a huge Buttboarding fan! Dr. Love even gave a 3 minute interview regarding the differences between our Buttboarding and Luge at www.Now.com.

"where Buttboard illustrates the skills involved, Luge provides the technical aspects to increase the performance by the final few percent."

The show went out live to 160 million estimated audience!

The opening ceremonies featured "Spud" the Bagpiper. Spud quickly became a favorite of the racers, and everyone made sure to pose for a picture with him.

Eli Smouse crooks a peep at Spud's Pipes; an RCA pup captivated by "His Master's Voice."

Racers suited up while the inspiring strains of Amazing Grace echoed through the Highlands:

"Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home."

The track is currently the longest and fastest in the World Cup circuit. At 2.5 miles (4K) it required over 1,100 haybales and reams of snow fence to protect. The organizers even built Marshalling stands to provide enough safe "eye coverage" of the massive track. Speed estimates put the fastest riders at over 70 mph.

The volunteer marshals and course officials were excellent.They all knew their jobs and performed admirably. The result was an event which ran as though it was celebrating it's 10th year, and not working out first year bugs.

Supermodel Jo Beard (right) sports a fetching "Lott Classic Racing " sweatshirt under this year's Day-Glo Marshalling vest.

The Buttboard field was 16 riders strong, running in 6 man Supermass format. British favorite Jeremy Gilder crashed out in the first round (a late braking problem caused, no doubt, by too much shoe whittling); leaving Beard, Eliot, Pete Love, and Tim Hilton to bring home the bacon for Queen and Country.

Chris Beard was the most likely candidate with a qualifying time 3 seconds faster than even Gilder's; but it was not to be. It was the newly minted "Dr. Love" who was the Brit to make the Buttboard finals. And British "bacon" turns out to be more like overcooked, super-salty, ham slices.

Richard Hodkinson and organizer Chris Beard both ran boards which were constructed from plywood while at the event! Richard wins the "Tom Sawyer" award, convincing other racers to "show me how this hand saw works."

Werner Beuchel was a German favorite cranking in the #4 qualifying spot on his custom Double duty steed (right).

With such a long track, there was no need for lane lines, blending zones, or other artifice at the start. Consequently, there were no false starts and none of the extrememly distasteful DQs that can characterize the shorter track events. Riders picked where they wanted to be on the road based on qualifiying times. It was crowded with 6 men across, but if hands collided during the unlimited paddle, the racers would apologize, and paddle one handed until they could move to a clear spot. There was plenty of time to make up ground.

The track followed the natural lines of the road. Two main features gave everyone more than enough excitment: The "Juice Box" and the "Gun Barrel."

Gun Barrel is a left 180 degree switchback which can be taken at about 30 mph. However, the approach to the Gun Barrel is almost 60 mph. Those who failed to exercise judicious braking had a taste of hay and pain.

Coming out of the switchback with speed was critical. The track flattened and perhaps even went a bit uphill. A poor exit meant excruciating slow progress as all the trailing riders shot past. An excellent exit put even a trailing rider "back in the hunt" for 1st place.

After the Flats, the "Sugar Bowl" arced 180 degree right. It was taken by everyone without braking because of relatively low speed, but a good line was crucial to track positioning for the "Big Drop" on the exit.

With speeds already leaping over 60 mph, the "Juice Box" was next. It was named for a spectator's juice box thrown into the road before the turn. But it stuck because no one wanted to be juiced there. As brave as everyone claimed to be, the course was littered with nervous braking marks prior to the bend. The pavement was definitely uneven, as evidenced by the paint warnings left by the stand up riders. At about 70 mph, it was a high-G left, through the bumps and prep for another high-G right. The bumps would make the riders shift and dance through the turn. The wheels of the heavier riders actually smoked under the stress. Hooking another rider in the Juice Box could send everyone into the surrounding forest, exploding against the trees like victims of an airline accident. And hence, all the nervous braking marks.

All the speed was not wasted, and the rest of the sweeping turns on the course kept racers busy. There was plenty of time and room for drafting and passing before the finish. Also time to dodge the few moronic spectators who always confuse these events with a Running of the Bulls.

The long fast course was a challenge to every Buttboarder's skills and stamina. It certainly favored the Pegs and Headrest of a Street Luge. Yet Dave Rogers (left) and Gerhard Lanz managed Buttboard times better than half the Street Luge field.

However, it was Darren Lott's course that weekend and he set down a blistering 2:46 run that put him a unprecedented 6 seconds ahead of the two Hot Heels Champs.

Regardless of qualifying times, no one was ready to give Darren the win.

Dave Rogers led into the Gun Barrel and Gerhard came rocketing in hot and late, pulling it together an instant before taking Darren into the hay. Dave noticed Darren passing on the Flats and requested some of Darren's speed in exchange for staying on the smooth section of road. Darren declined, kept avoiding Dave until he was past, and didn't look back until after the checkered flag.

Dave held 2nd place and Gerhard made a comeback to take 3rd. Tom Mason came in 4th, followed by Pete Love and Werner Buechel on his "double duty" board.

After the Supermass was done, it was time for the "Grand Prix" event. Here the racers lined up in a long row, two abreast. The fastest riders started in the back. After a rolling paced start everyone started drafting and passing. There was action on every foot of the course. The trick, however, was not so much to win but to stick with the fast camera men. Dave Rogers did an excellent job, hanging behind Chris Beard's rear facing camera and then later pulling inches ahead of Darren right at the checkered.

As Buttboarders are want to do, they squeeled and giggled with delight after the run- "Oh my God! Did you see when I...?" Look for the faces for those who didn't win this event. Everyone of them finished aChampion.

The Scottish Weather had been freakishly good thoughout the 3 days of riding. The awards cermony featured amazing trophy wheels Chris had machined out of aluminum blocks. There were Nixon watches for the 1st place winners, and donated Scotch from the local distilleries.

Darren gave some blubbering acceptance speech, noting how British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had "lost" all his luggage for 3 days, and that the grace and donations of his competitors provided him with running gear for the first critical practice day.

Spud the Piper returned and everyone spontaneously gathered for a group photo. The Highlands echoed with the sound of the Forbidden Pipes. Then the sky got a bit misty, and it proceded to rain for the next several days.

1. Darren Lott  -- 2.46

2. Dave Rogers -- 2.52

3. Gerhard Lanz -- 2.54

4. Tom Mason -- 3.09

5. Pete Love -- 3.10

6. Werner Beuchel -- 3.01

7. Chris Beard -- 3.02

8 .Chris Chaput -- 3.02

9. Pete Eliot -- 3.08

10. Chris McBride -- 3.11

11. Bob Swartz -- 3.18

12. Tim Hilton -- 3.43

13. Jeremy Gilder -- 3.05

14. Thomas Haas -- 3.13

15. Rob Bryant -- NT

15. Richard Hodkinson -- NT

Darren Lott ©2001